Ursula Le Guin’s story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” is set in the ultimate Shining City on a Hill, a place of joy and happiness, full of educated, creative types who spend their days frolicking at festivals and occasionally indulging in (non-habit-forming) drugs that reveal the secrets of the universe while “exciting the pleasure of sex beyond all belief.”
There are “fast little trains and double-decked trams” in Omelas. And a farmers’ market.
There’s just one catch — the “happiness, the beauty of their city” depends on a single child being locked away in a tiny room, kept in darkness, isolation and misery:
“If the child were brought up into the sunlight, … all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed. ... The child’s torture is no secret. The good people of Omelas know.”
Portland is Omelas. Maybe all of Oregon is Omelas. And the child upon whose cruel treatment the people’s happiness depended was a 14-year-old girl, the victim of long-term sexual abuse by Neil Goldschmidt, who served as mayor of Portland and governor of Oregon.
Goldschmidt’s crimes came to light in 2004, decades after the abuse began. The statute of limitations protected him from prosecution.
Goldschmidt has vanished from Oregon’s political scene, at least for now, but public attention focused once more on his offenses when his victim died on Jan. 16 in a Portland hospice of undisclosed causes at age 49. Her short life was full of suffering, in large measure because of Goldschmidt — but also because of the people of Omelas.
Over Spanish coffees at Huber’s Cafe in Portland in late 1994, a friend and colleague from Goldschmidt’s governor’s office told me a story about a girl he had dated occasionally back in the 1970s. She was 14, and he was 16. One night, as he walked up to her front door, he heard music. He stood quietly and watched through the window as the girl danced about the living room. She was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.
She confided in him that she and then-Mayor Goldschmidt were having sex. He went to his parents, who knew and admired Goldschmidt. The girl was crazy, they said. Ignore her. Neil’s a great man.
In May 2004, on the day Neil’s criminal past was finally revealed, my friend called me. He said it was a shame the story had come out: “Look at all the terrific things he did for Portland and Oregon.”
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Do Perverts Go Into Politics to Get Access to Children?
Or is it that our society is awash in pedophiles and we are disappointed when they turn up in high office? From the Eugene Register-Guard: